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Elevated Eats: La Sonrisa

Please join us in welcoming the newest High Line food vendor, La Sonrisa! Ariel Rodriguez and his team have only been on the High Line a few weeks, but they're already one of our go-to lunch spots. For this week's installment of Elevated Eats, we followed the process of making a mushroom empanada, from first sautée to enjoying it on the High Line. It's one of six available flavors on the High Line. All delicious, they are fried-to-order and come with three dipping sauces.

Almost exactly five years ago, Ariel Rodriguez needed a career change and started La Sonrisa. He was inspired to start a culinary business using the family empanada recipes he grew up enjoying as a kid here in Chelsea. Ariel was taught from an early age to make empanadas by his mom, Ramona – pictured here alongside him – who had learned from her mother. It seems fitting that La Sonrisa has returned to Chelsea and found a home on the High Line.

One would never guess that this understated storefront a few blocks from the 7 train in Long Island City, Queens, is the source of so many culinary delights. Tiny Drumsticks is a commercial kitchen where chefs can rent space to cook up their tasty treats headed for sale at restaurants, food trucks, and flea markets across the city.

On a Saturday, the space is quiet and Ariel sets to work preparing the mushroom filling for one of his empanadas. Simple ingredients are the key: a few spices, fresh mushrooms, garlic, parsely, and butter.

Twenty pounds of mushrooms are used to make about 200 mushroom empanadas.

The thin dough for La Sonrisa's empanadas is a simple recipe of flour, water, salt, and vegetable oil – no preservatives.

Each empanada is made by hand using this handy little device.

Ramona Rodriguez works alongside her son, Ariel, behind the counter at La Sonrisa. The family recipes include sweet and savory options, though the most popular flavor on the High Line is the Coconut Curry Chicken.

Hungry yet? Come visit La Sonrisa in the Chelsea Market Passage, on the High Line at 15th Street. Monday through Sunday, 12:00PM – 8:00PM.


All photo by Amelia Krales.

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